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No deal, but progress between Heiltsuk and DFO in herring talks

The Heiltsuk First Nation says talks with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans yielded progress but no resolution on the issue of the potential commercial herring fishery off the central coast.

DFO Regional Director General Sue Farlinger sat down with Heiltsuk leaders for three hours Monday but there was no agreement on closing all of Area 7 to a gillnet fishery.

“They offered to set aside a few areas for Heiltsuk food, social, and ceremonial and spawn-on-kelp fisheries, but we remain strong in our resolve to protect all of Area 7,” says Kelly Brown, Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department Director.

Brown and Heiltsuk Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett have been occupying the DFO office near Bella Bella since Sunday evening.

“We are hopeful that we can see a peaceful resolution to this situation,” says Slett. “DFO agreed to two or our three conditions, including a path forward for joint management. But we are holding firm on defending our territory from a gillnet opening this year.”

Talks between the Heiltsuk and DFO are set to resume this morning at 10.

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